Steve was one of my brother’s friends. Two years older and so much wiser and, of course, super cool. I don’t remember why I was with him that day in the woods but I was following him on the trails through thick and thin. Then, in a moment he stopped and looked me directly in the eye. “You know you just followed me in a circle?” I looked at him without really understanding what he meant. I didn’t understand—I was just following the guy I looked up to.
Our KOZ boys look up to their leaders. So often they long for a mentor, a man to lead them and fill the gap in their hearts they naturally long for, a man to train them. It is not unusual for a boy to mimic his KOZ leader. We have seen them pick up slang terms, the way a leader walks or holds his hands. If a leader swings his head a certain way or has a habit of scratching his left ear, watch for it, the boys pick up on everything.
I have had moms tell me when their son got home from KOZ he wanted to sleep on the floor in his sleeping bag, build a fire pit and hang outside. He wanted a pocket knife for his birthday or hike at the park every day. These are all amazingly good things. They have also told me he was asking questions about God and church and even teaching his little brothers and sisters what he was learning about God and the stories his KOZ leaders shared with him.
A boy may come just once or for years, and the example and the way a KOZ leader runs their meeting matter. Listening is critical, watching, being present, prayerfully present is so important. The boys don’t always know why they are doing something, but they follow the KOZ leader. They long to be accepted by him and believe him. They copy his actions because they admire and respect and want to be like him.
That day I realized when I followed Steve around in a circle, I was following him aimlessly. When he stopped and looked at me and told me I had just followed him in a circle, he was shaming me. He was calling me out for not paying attention. Later I swore to never follow anyone like that again. It was a good and bad vow. In some ways it made it hard for me to be a part of a group; in other ways it had me keep my head up, eyes forward, and question where I was going. I long now to follow good men, good leaders, and Jesus more than ever. I have learned how to follow.
How we mentor our boys in KOZ matters. We want to offer them tools to navigate their lives. They long to be directed and taught, they hunger for it, and we are directed by God to lead them. It is the mission of every KOZ leader and not one to be taken lightly. They are going to follow you, many will go around and around in that circle. They will scratch their ear, spit on the ground, and blink like you. But most of all, they need to love Jesus like you. They need to see your love for Him, them, the bible, church, the other boys and men, your wife and kids. Then our prayer, your prayer, is one day, whether they were with you once or 100 times, they will mimic what they learned from that guy (you) that walked in front of them and it will be good.
Live Pure, Speak Truth, Right Wrong, Follow the King.